Nice for What

That’s a real one, in your reflection, without a follow, without a mention/ you’re really pipin up on these ^!&&@’s, you gotta be nice for what to these ^!&&@’s…


You’re amazing, but….

I really like you, but….

I love you, but….

We’ve all been at the receiving end of one of these “buts”…they’re the statements that come just before someone tells you that even though you are the best thing since buttered biscuits on a lazy Sunday afternoon, you’re just not IT for them. Even though you are more amazing than a snow day on test day, there is still something missing in you. You are an ice cold drink in a frosted mug on the hottest of days, but still…STILL you are not enough. When you are the recipient of one of these ‘but’ conversations (or text messages), the person delivering the news could list a million great things about you; however, they are all quickly erased by whatever follows the “but”. The ‘but’ will leave you feeling hurt, empty, and less than. It follows you. It can change you, and not always for the better.

These days it seems the popular thing to be is a savage *insert Megan thee Stallion aaaa sound*. Protect your heart, get them before they get you, catch flights not feelings. Leave them on read, text them on Monday after the weekend’s over, disappear for a few days and then reappear…. Give them just enough to want more and then scoot them back into “their lane”. Should you find yourself feeling something for someone don’t you dare say it because then you become thirsty, needy, pressed…. Whatever you do, don’t make your feelings a plus one to a party where only your genitals are invited. It’s far better to be savage according to the court of public opinion. The result is a world full of people walking around trying to get before getting got, tending to their own wants and needs with little to no regard for the wants and needs of the other person/people, and building a wall around their heart taller than the wall Trump wanted to build on the Mexican border. *aaaaa*

Ahh Megan Thee Stallion GIF - Ahh MeganTheeStallion CaptainHook GIFs

If you’re like me, you may not necessarily walk around with your heart on your sleeve, but when you care about a person or when you love someone, you do so deeply. So when you’re like me and you find yourself at the tail end of the ‘buts’ it can be devastating. It can knock you off of your already wobbly balance beam of self-love and confidence. It quickly derails your quest to feel like you’re enough in your own skin. It prevents your practice of perfectionism wherein you try to do all things and be all things and handle all things. It’s a swift kick in the gut and can feel quite literally like it takes the wind out of you. Perhaps worst than any of those things is the fact that it can often propel you into the savage pool as you vow to never share your heart in that way again, to never love again, to never give again. But….

My daughter and I were walking out of an office building one day through an exit that had two sets of doors…(yes, I promise, this is still on topic lol)…. As we walked through the first set of doors I noticed that there was a gentleman immediately behind us, so as we walked through the door, I paused to hold the door open so that he could walk through behind us. After all, it would be rude to let the door go and fall on him…just as rude was the fact that he walked through the door and said absolutely nothing! There was not a thank you to be found. As we approached the second set of doors I thought to myself, I know how to fix him. With my plan set firmly in my mind to let the second set of doors go without pausing to hold it for him (you won’t get me twice), I see my daughter rush ahead of me to hold open the door. I thanked her for holding the door then looked at her and said “come on”. She didn’t budge — she was ruining my get back! “Come On,” I said through clinched teeth. Still, she didn’t move until the man behind us walked through the door. After he walked through the doors and went about his merry way, still with no thank you, my daughter let the door go behind us. As we began walking towards the car, she turned to me and said, “mommy, why didn’t you want me to hold the door”. “That man was rude and didn’t even say thank you when we held the door for him the first time”, I retorted, to which she replied, “just because he doesn’t have good manners, doesn’t mean we should stop being nice”. *jaw drops* Lesson received…

Broken Heart Love GIF by Antoine Doré - Find & Share on GIPHY

To the lovers, the bleeding hearts, the people who wear their heart on their sleeves, I give you a similar drift…just because you’ve fallen victim to the ‘but’ conversation, just because you’ve fallen for a savage or two, just because you’ve been hurt in ways that continue to sting to this very day, don’t stop being you. Your pain, your tears, may have falsely caused you to believe that you are weak. On the contrary, it takes great strength to put yourself out there, to love before knowing if you’ll be loved in return, to love even when it’s hard to do, to pick up the pieces of your heart and love again. Continue to do so. Be not fooled by savagery…many “savages” once had a heart as big as yours, but they allowed the pain of failed friendships, relationships, courtships to scare them into becoming the aggressor. You get to choose savage or savor. Make no mistake, both sides hurt in their own way…but one side gets the chance to truly love, or truly love again. You can ask yourself, be nice for what….? And I would say because it’s who you are, and don’t you dare let anybody change that.

He Walked by Faith

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7

My brother was 15 years old when I was born. As a teenager who had been an only child for that long, I am sure he was just absolutely thrilled at the news that there was going to be a new baby around (LOL). I can only imagine what that conversation between him and my mom must have been like – LOL. But from the moment I was born, we were inseparable. He would hold me and play games with me and read to me. He showed me the ropes. We were a team.

It didn’t take long for my brother to realize that having a baby sister around might not be all that bad. After all, he quickly found out that girls love babies…and they love sensitive, cute guys holding cute babies. So my brother, with his beautiful brown skin, million dollar smile, and dimples to boot began taking me everywhere with him…and the girls would flock! “Oh Mike, your baby sister is so cute”, they would say…and oh would he lay it on thick. “Well you know, I take my sister off my mom’s hands to help my mom out. My mom does so much for us and I just love my little sister so much, it really is just a pleasure for me to spend time with her and help my mom out at the same time. They mean so much to me.” He would lay it on THICK…and the ladies would fall for it every time. I’m not saying there wasn’t SOME truth to what he was saying, but the REAL story is that I was a plant, on special assignment from my mother…sent with my brother because my mom knew that when we got back home, I would tell her everything I saw and everything that happened. I was really a secret spy. But my brother was smart and he knew that so he quickly found a way to buy my silence. He would take me with him, I would help him get girls, and if I remained silent and didn’t tell on him – he would reward me with my very own box of McDonald’s French Fries!! I was sold and mom never got another word out of me. He got the girls, I got the fries – it was a mutually beneficial relationship. But it was some of the best times that we had together – forming a bond – truly becoming a brother/sister team – a bond that would never be broken.

Growing up, my brother was the main man in my life and he didn’t take that lightly. He was like a superhero to me. Always so cool in his little white sports car or his blue stick shift Honda – the same car he would later use to teach me how to drive a stick shift. He taught me how to change a tire. He came to my basketball games and my plays and my concerts – not out of obligation – he was an adult by then and didn’t have to – but because he wanted to and because he loved and cared for me almost like a father would. He treated me like a princess. Imagine being in elementary school and getting picked up from the after school program in a limo. My brother would pull up in a stretch white limo right around the time that most of the kids were getting picked up and he would hop out in his suit, open the back door to the limo and pick me up. He worked for the limo company and he was on the clock – that’s why he would pick me up in a limo – but the people at school didn’t know that. I felt like a princess – I felt like a million bucks – and everyone would watch as I hopped in the back and we would pull off. Imagine being 6 or 7 years old riding in the back of the limo by yourself – I felt so special – and my brother taught me that I was special and that mom and I deserved to feel that way everyday of our lives. He taught me that I was beautiful and that I should love myself just the way I am. Everyone knows that going through the teenage years is rough…you feel so unsure of yourself and of your body and you become very self conscious about whether you are pretty or not or if you’re too fat or too short or…. But then I would get off from school and go home or go to my brother’s house….and those who know my brother know that he was a big guy….he was good looking but he had a playground as they call it or a little gut on him…but he would walk around shirtless all the time like he was built like the Rock or Reggie Bush or something… He had no fear, or as my mom would say, no shame…he loved and accepted his body and flaunted it…and the ladies loved him!! That was such an important lesson for me as a teenage girl struggling to accept my flaws…to love and accept and be happy with the skin I’m in and my brother taught me that. He felt it was his job to protect my mother and me. I couldn’t tell him that a kid pushed me on the playground without him asking what’s their name, who were there parents, and did he need to come up there…and when I started dating….man. By then he was a police officer so it would be nothing for him to come to my school, in uniform, to “check things out”. In fact, for my junior prom, my “driver” and “chaperone” was my brother, in his police uniform, driving me and my date around in a Lincoln – needless to say we went straight to the prom and came straight home that night (LOL)…but I guess things had come full circle…I was no longer the baby spy sent along to report on his activities – he was now the Police Officer, big brother spy sent to make sure that the only fun we had on prom night happened on the dance floor….and he couldn’t be bribed with McDonald’s fries. Well played mom, well played.

My brother loved many things…but there was nothing he loved more than family. You hear people say all the time that a single woman can’t raise a man to be a man – and yes my mother had support from the “village” that it takes to raise a child – but my mother did an amazing job raising my brother into the man that he became and he loved her dearly….and there was nothing he wouldn’t do for her.  One day my mom was driving, I was in the back seat, and a squirrel tried to dash across the street in front of the car and she couldn’t stop in time so she ended up hitting him. She burst into tears – she was distraught – and she called my brother who was at work at the Police Department at the time…and she said “Oh my God Tony I just hit a squirrel and he’s laying in the middle of the road dead and we cant just leave him there like that….” So my brother says “Ma, ma…calm down…what happened…who did you hit?” And she said “…a squirrel Tony, I hit a squirrel…Oh my God Tony you have to come get him….get a box or something and come get him out of the street Tony…I can’t just leave him laying there like that…” So my brother, now realizing what mom was saying says, “Ma – you hit a squirrel? The way you were crying I thought you hit a person… You want me to come and get him up out of the street? Do you know how many squirrels get hit everyday? Ma leave that squirrel there… It’ll be okay…” But, after some protest, he did go and get the squirrel out of the street. It was probably the 1st funeralized squirrel in America. But he did it – because he would do anything for our mother. He loved her and appreciated her…and in one of the last conversations I had with my brother he turned to me, almost in reflective state, and said “you know, Ma has been a great mother to us”…and we nodded in agreement.

A testament to the type of man my mother raised my brother to be was the way he stepped up and raised his children as a single father. You hear so much about deadbeat dads and fathers not being in the home. Statistics would lead you to believe that, as a man, if you grow up without a father then chances are you will grow up and won’t be a father to your children either – but my brother defied all of that. He stepped up and raised his children by himself. He was determined that he wasn’t going to just be a send the check and see them on the weekends dad. He was going to be everything to his children. He was going to be the type of father that his father should have been to him…and he did just that. He worked hard and bought a home for him and his children. He went to every cheerleading competition and football game and school program. His kids were his world. And when he took sick and could no longer live in his home because he couldn’t get up and down the stairs, he bought another house and continued to provide for his children. He never said this is too much, he never said I’m sick and I need to just focus on me…he stayed the course and gave his children all that he could until he left this earth. And he raised two compassionate, loving children, Leticia and Trenton, who stayed with him and took care of him until the very end. On multiple occasions the doctor’s wanted to throw in the towel and send him to hospice or to just keep him comfortable until he died, but each and every time his children said no – he’s not done – send him home and we’ll take care of him. And they did. And he loved being a grandfather to MiKayla – who called him Pop Pop. He loved her so much and every time the doctors tried to give him discouraging news all he would say is that he wanted to be here to see MiKayla grow up…and I believe he will watch over her and see grow from his spot in heaven. And he loved being a Godfather to his niece Madison. He cried when my husband and I asked him to be her Godfather and even from his hospital bed he would always ask how “baby girl” was doing and talk about all of the things he wanted to get for her and all of the places he wanted to take her and MiKayla when he got out of the hospital…but I guess it just wasn’t in God’s plan.

There are so many things I could say about my brother – so many things that he loved to do. He loved being a Police Officer and he was heartbroken when his illness left him wheelchair bound and he was forced to retire from the force. He loved riding motorcyles and continued to do so even when he could no longer walk until his illness progressed and he couldn’t ride any longer. My brother loved to dance and he loved to sing but he never knew the words to any song. To this day I don’t know why Roxanne doesn’t have to turn on the red light and I don’t know what happens after you sit on the dock of the bay wasting time…because he would only sing that one line from each of those songs. My brother loved to barbecue. We would have 4th of July barbecue cook-off competitions or I’d call him to see what he was doing and he’d be outside barbecuing in the freezing cold in December. He always dreamed of owning a barbecue restaurant and he was so excited when I married a man who loved barbecuing as much as he did. So when he partnered with my husband in starting a barbecue business our phone conversations went from “hi sis, how are you” to “hi sis, let me speak to David” (LOL). But I didn’t mind. I was glad that he finally found someone that he could talk about barbecue with endlessly – I mean I’ve never seen two people who could talk about ribs and pork and barbecue literally all day – and it brought a smile to his face whenever we visited him in the hospital and they could talk about how the business was going.

Throughout my brother’s illness and even more-so now that he’s gone, I’ve always tried to hold on to the scripture that asks us to Trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding. Because try as I might I can’t understand why such a loving man, a hard working man, a faithful man was inexplicably struck with an illness at such a young age and taken from us at the age of 49. This was supposed to be the prime of his life, being a father, a grandfather, and a God Father. Realizing his dreams of owning his own business. Riding his motorcycle and taking family trips. This was supposed to be our time. But God has a plan for us all…and he knows better than you or I…and in this time I have to hold tight to that because in this time it’s all I can do. Throughout my brother’s illness he never said if…he always said when… When I get better….when I walk again…he was faithful to the very end. And so now I don’t say to my brother rest in peace. He spent the past 12+ years in a wheelchair…and now he has new heavenly legs…I doubt he’s resting. I think he’s probably doing like the song says and walking around Heaven all day. I believe that now he is better…and he is walking again…just like he said he would. I am so grateful for you my brother and all that you have been to me and to our family and I love you and I will miss you forever until I can see your smiling face again.

Memorial Days…

This year will be the first year that we don’t go to Arlington National Cemetery to put flowers on my Uncle and my Father. While we may not be celebrating our Memorial Day in our usual fashion, today, and every day, we remember those who gave it all fighting for our country. We remember those who gave it all even when they were looked upon as second class citizens. We remember the women who had to fight the enemy and fight for acceptance in the military. We remember those who were fresh out of high school when they took up arms and gave their lives for their country. We remember the men and women who left behind spouses and children and families in the name of protecting our freedoms.

I grew up a “military kid”…not in the sense of moving around and living in a new state or country every few years, but as a kid who was constantly surrounded by the grandeur, the grit, the pomp and circumstance, the honor of the military. My father and Uncle were both Marines and my mom worked for the Marine Corp for nearly 40 years. I spent as much time on military bases as I did on suburban streets. It is this upbringing that has allowed me to always honor and revere the men and women of our military. Few will ever know all that they sacrifice to fight for our freedom. Today I honor the two soldiers who impacted my life the most.

Edward Leon Green was a US Marine and Purple Heart recipient. He fought in Vietnam. He received a Purple Heart for the physical injuries he received in war, but mentally he was damaged as well. He was never quite “the same” when he came back from war. I’m not sure anyone ever could be the same after what they saw and experienced. Nevertheless he was more like my father than my Uncle. He loved and cared for me like a father. He always looked after our family. He was a hardworking man of God until he was called home. I honor him today and I am grateful for the man that he was in my life.

My father, David Anthony Duarte, though absent from my life since I was 3 years old, I still go and place flowers on him every Memorial Day. He was a proud Marine. He loved the Corps. He rose through the ranks and became a GYSGT in a time where ascending the ranks in the military wasn’t easy for a black man (sadly, it still isn’t). I honor him for the man he desired to be. I honor him because when I got older, the hurt in me saw the hurt in him. Fight or flight often applies to our inner demons as well. Some of us face our demons head on. Others spend a lifetime trying to outrun the hurt. Thankfully, even in our inaction, people can learn from our choices. I am thankful for the lessons his life taught me.

On this Memorial Day, and every day, we honor all of those who paid the ultimate price, and the families they left behind. On this day we memorialize not only the fallen soldiers, but also the death of innocence, the death of “normalcy” the death of dreams, and the death of peace that war has taken from so many of our men and women who are still here today. On this day, and indeed every day, we remember you, we love you, and we thank you for all you have given. For those who have gone on, we will never forget you. In loving memory of all who have fallen.

Giving You the Best That I Got

I often think (and respond) in song lyrics. Am I the only one? I mean I really pray no one at work ever says “it’s getting hot in here” because I’m liable to shout out “SO TAKE OFF ALL YOUR CLOTHES”!!!….and then I’ll be looking for new employment. *Kanye shrug* I watch TV shows and low key analyze the song that is played in the background for a given scene. If I like it, I’ll Google it and add it to my Tidal playlist. Yes, it’s that serious. So now that you know THAT about me, it should come as no surprise that when, at the end of a long day of homeschooling and teleworking, helping my husband with his business and fielding calls from every bored co-quarantine-er on the east coast…at the end of THAT kind of day when one more person asked me for me for one more thing to add to my already full plate, I responded — “I’m tapped out — I’VE GIVEN YOU THE BEST THAT I GOT!!!” *insert puzzled look on the face of the recipient of that response*

As women we often give “the best that we got” to our spouse, our children, our parents, our girlfriends, our churches, our organizations….to everyone…!! (except ourselves) Even with our new-found “Self Care Sundays” and our meditation and our me-time…and as we “live our best lives”, these things often come at the end of a long day, after we have nothing left to give, after we are beat down and exhausted, after we have taken all that we can take and THEN we say enough already, I need a break!!!! Rarely do we self care just because. My deepest moments of meditation come after my children have called my name so many times that I wonder why I was in a rush for them to learn to talk….it’s THEN that I retreat to a quiet place, queue up my meditation app, and clear my head. After stress, exhaustion, and anxiety kick in, I book a room and have a staycation where I can just relax and write, or read a book, order room service, and unwind. After my husband and my son have tap danced on my last nerve by battling each other on the fart app *insert eye roll* or after I’m ‘all cried out‘, I lace up my sneakers, throw on my sweats and my headphones, and let the breeze, the sun, and the pavement beat the stress out of me. Sadly, for many of us, it’s not until we’ve come to the ‘end of the road‘, that self care becomes a priority.

Here’s your aha moment for the day boys and girls. If you are giving everyone else the ‘best that you got’, then you are giving yourself sloppy seconds. Hell, you might be giving yourself thin thirds or feeble fourths. Let that sink in. You can’t give everyone your best and still have your best available to feed YOUR mind, YOUR body, YOUR spirit, and YOUR dreams. Think for a moment, what if we gave our best to our “side hustle” or our dream business instead of our 9 to 5? What if we made our self-cation or our stay-cation a regularly reoccurring event instead of a last ditch escape when we’re stressed? Girls trips, yoga, meditation, daily self care — all a priority. Giving ourselves our best and then bestowing that best upon those we choose, at our discretion.

There’s no time like the present to start being good to yourself FIRST. We are all in trying times….and while some people would say that you should use this time to be ‘thinking of a master plan‘, the truth is you should be using this time to take better care of yourself — whatever that looks like for you. Maybe the quarantine has given you all kinds of newfound time and you use it to finally write that screenplay you’ve always wanted to write. Maybe the stress and anxiety of the unknown makes it hard for you to focus on much of anything. Whether you are working from home or the quarantine has left you unemployed. Whether you are wondering how you can drop your kids off at their teacher’s house, or whether you have binge watched everything Netflix ever created…. Wherever you are personally in these times AND even once things return back to whatever-comes-after-normal…begin transitioning to a mindset of giving your best to yourself. Be your ‘number one, two, three, four, and five‘ for a while, and then share with the world what you will.

Live Doing

(as seen on

COVID-19….the Corona virus…or the ‘Rona as I tend to call it, brought so many things to light in just a matter of days. Our “strong” economy went from flourishing to struggle mode. Our healthcare system went from top notch to over-taxed. ‘Rona put people out of work as so many of our service providers – waiters, barbers, hairdressers, airline employees, bartenders, etc. could no longer perform their jobs due to social distancing. Some of us were deemed essential and asked to return to work even in the midst of the growing pandemic. Others of us found that our jobs that “could not be performed from home” just weeks ago were now given the equipment, tools, and approval to proceed with working from home. Airlines went from charging $25 for your checked bag to charging $35 for the whole damn flight. Night and day. As the NBA and MLB suspended their seasons, we learned that we could survive without sports, but as schools closed for weeks….and then indefinitely until the next school year, many of us found that we can’t survive without teachers. As many of us were thrust into the roll of being both parent and teacher, full time employee and full time homemaker, we quickly realized that teachers should get paid millions billions trillions of dollars a year for the work that they do. So while there aren’t enough tongues in the world to give enough thanks for the work that our doctors, nurses, hospital employees, grocery store employees, first responders, and military are doing to save lives — even at the risk of their own health — this writing is to acknowledge the overlooked heroes who are front line responders every day during this pandemic. The working-parents-turned-teachers.

This experience has put a lot of stress on the anxious parent(s). The perfectionist parent(s). The “you can’t bring home a C” parent(s). The “you have do twice as good to be thought half as good” parent(s). We are not okay. Working from home has become work-and-teach from home. Our full time job has become multiple full time jobs as we take on the task of bringing home the bacon, serving it up for breakfast, teaching our kids where the pig comes from, chopping it up for the lunchtime Cobb salad, and doing a lesson on pork barrel politics. It’s tew much. We read the Facebook posts and listen to the motivational speakers who tell us that this quarantine is a golden opportunity to work on that book we’ve always wanted to write, or finally read that novel…to put together that scrap book, or finally rearrange our closest. We read and we listen and then we kick ourselves because we feel like a failure for “squandering” this opportunity when the world is standing still. We feel like we will come out of this experience even more exhausted than before, with a “bucket list” that is as long as it ever was, and we will once again find ourselves behind the curve of everyone who used this time to start that business, buy those stocks, or take that class. Our DVR will still be full, we’ll still only be two episodes in on Tiger King, and the quarantine 15 will have made our birthday goal weight that much harder to attain. Even the newfound online activities that are meant to bring us joy or relax us in the midst of all of the panic causes undue anxiety as we suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out). Anthony Hamilton at 5, Kem at 7, what time was the HBCU day party again….and dammit I missed Jennifer Hudson and the latest D-Nice party. Overload. All while we work…..and…..educate our children.

Honestly, when everything first happened and schools first closed, I was kind of excited about the prospect of teaching my kids. I was going to finally teach them that there were several black game changers whose initials didn’t start with MLK. We were going to take walks outside and look at the leaves and the trees for science class. P.E. would be online Yoga and I would finally teach them the words to the Black National Anthem. There would be cooking and learning new languages and coding, or so I thought…and then, worksheets hit. Assignments came. Teachers woke up to the news that their school year had abruptly ended and decided that we, the parents, would now take up the torch and finish out the lesson plans that they had so meticulously planned for our babies, their students. To be clear, this is not an indictment on the teachers. They, like all of us, had to quickly come up with a way to adapt and keep the educational wheels turning, but this.tew.much. An article quickly circulated touting the 20 best free educational apps for kids and, as a super parent, I immediately started the task of researching them all. Teachers did as well obviously, because by the end of the first week, my kids were signed up for nothing short of 10 online learning mediums, each with their own logins. Fix it Jesus. We started our “school day” every morning at 8 and by 5 we were still at it. As we completed the tasks and assignments of the day I would receive the horrifying sound of a notification alert on my phone and would be greeted with the list of assignments for the next day, times three, one for each child. I cried. Literally. Convinced that I would now be single-handedly responsible for my child being behind next year if I didn’t somehow get them through all of this work and assignments, each day I would forge ahead and drive them through the work from morning into the evening – whatever it took to get it done. They were stressed and exhausted. Secretly, I think they were praying that the schools would reopen so they could go back to “real school” where they could at least eat lunch and have recess without having a worksheet shoved in their face. I secretly wished the same. I felt like a failure – a failure at teaching my children. A failure at work (which no longer received my undivided attention). A failure at using this down time to do and be something great.

I took to FaceBook and Twitter and group texts to air my grievances about how stressed I was feeling during this time. I received support and confirmation that I wasn’t alone in how I was feeling. I received the “hang in there” and “it’ll get better” well wishes that were heartfelt, but did little to ease the anxiety and angst I was feeling. I received great feedback and support, but there was one message that stood apart from all the others. It was a message that was so simple, it was brilliant. Honestly, as the overachiever-I-can-do-all-things type, it was a message that honestly never even crossed my mind. As I posted my message to vent and say “I have no idea how I’m going to get all of this done” the response that was posted simply said “say no”. Say.No. *cue music and lightbulb over my head* In all of the things that I thought to say or do to manage this workload, to manage the lesson plans, to manage the domestic requirements…the carefully worded email that I drafted and edited a million times to send to my kids’ teachers, it never, EVER dawned on me to just say NO. To say “I can’t”. To say this is too much. Everything in me in us is wired to push to our limits, to give everything, to “die trying”. Die trying? Who in the hell wants to do that? But the reality is that many of us aren’t naturally wired to And when I tell you that the genius who wrote this knows us (the overachieving-never-say-no-types) so well, that anytime someone responded to my post after that, her response would be the same. Say no. Say no chile! For the love of God say no!

So that’s what I did. I added a few more words here and there to make it sound cute, but the jist of it was NO! I sent an email to their teachers and the principal to let them know that I was  fully on board with helping my children continue to learn, but that we were not going to be able to complete the 10 worksheets, 2 online classes, and the science experiment that they sent home. No. I stressed that they were going to have to adapt, as we all are, to this new normal for the next few months and temper our expectations of what we thought would be accomplished during that time. En Oh. I stated that we would prioritize the work received based on the areas where our children needed the most development. Niet. Nahi. Nein. To my surprise the teachers and principal were receptive. They, like all of us, were trying to figure out the right balance in how to proceed in these times. The weekend following that response, we took our children fishing. We talked about agriculture and currents. We talked about the types of fish that could be found in the bodies of water in our area. We talked about the ocean that borders us. We had science by the lake and it was wonderful and yes, even without a worksheet, it was learning.

About a year ago a picture was posted of a mother of four cooking, breastfeeding one baby, and helping another with his homework while two other played at her feet. While the picture was celebrated and applauded in the media, the picture actually upset me. We can no longer celebrate wearing ourselves out until we have nothing left to give. We really have to stop celebrating the fact that we are dying trying. In these times, if you are that parent who is homeschooling and working a 9 to 5, or if you’re a parent who is homeschooling and just working on keeping your sanity. Maybe you’re the parent who still has to go out and work and come home to kids who have been cooped up in the house all day and now demand your attention. You might be the parent who is home all day with no idea on how or when you will get to work again. Wherever you fall on the scale during these trying times AND even when things return back to “normal”, work to find the places in your life where you can say no. We must realize that every no we say to something that brings added stress and anxiety…every time we say “no” to something that we really don’t want to do….every time we say “no” to something that doesn’t feed our spirit or align with our goals in life, we are simultaneously saying yes to taking care of ourselves and improving our own wellness. Give yourself some grace and deposit a “yes” into yourself. Each personal “yes” deposit means another opportunity to live doing instead of die trying. 

Postmortem PTSD

In 2008 I became intimately familiar with PTSD. As the then fiance’ of a soldier who had just returned from Iraq, I was unknowingly thrust into the life of a caregiver to someone with PTSD and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). The thing is, even on the very day he returned home, I wasn’t immediately aware of my new role. The bus full of soldiers arrived to fanfare and welcome home signs. Then he got off of the bus and hopped in my car. He looked the same — just a little thinner, a little more tan, and cleanly shaven. But he was him — I thought. No limbs missing, home “in one piece”, I thought we had escaped all that war tried to throw at us. Boy was I wrong.

“Caregiver” was the term I used to describe myself in the opening paragraph, right? Funny thing is, I didn’t really consider myself that until recently — over 10 years later. Even through the nightmares and depression, the mood swings and the flashbacks. Even though he would startle easily and jump when he heard loud sounds. Even through the memory loss and the cold withdrawn behavior — I never thought of myself as his caregiver. I thought that with help and with time and with medication and therapy that much like the 394 days he spent deployed, this too would pass — perhaps slowly, but it would pass. What I didn’t realize was that the man I met and fell in love with on a cold November night was deceased.

My first encounter with death was as a teenager in the Young Marines. One of the guys in our platoon drowned. On the day of his services, we all got dressed in our crisp uniforms, arrived at the services, and marched to the front of the church to pay our final respects. Upon seeing him lying lifeless in the casket, I doubled over in anxiety and tears. I had of course heard of people dying before, but this was my first personal experience with the finality of a person’s time on earth ending. After that day, I don’t recall hearing about many people dying during my childhood. As a teenager I remember the passing of my Great Uncles Lou and Major. Each death was painful and left a void in our close family unit, but it was the death of my grandmother in 1998 that forever changed me. 2 weeks into my freshman year in college I received the call that she passed away. Within the hour I was packed and flying back home to Virginia — sitting for hours on a plane alone with my thoughts, my fear, and my hurt. I don’t think I ever fully recovered from my grandmother passing. I didn’t really have much time to mourn before I was on a plane back to school, back to classes, back to homework and exams. In essence, I was the soldier, unloaded from the bus, and thrust back into “normal” life, not realizing that normal was now….different…and the old me was gone.

Several more years went by before death struck my inner circle yet again. My 26 year old nephew took his own life. I arrived at the scene to see his body covered in a sheet as the blood leaking from his head spilled onto the concrete — his mother screaming in horror in the background. Five years later, my sister Renee lost her battle with Cancer – we visited with her just 2 months prior to her passing. A month later, I lost my ride-or-die, my partner for life….my brother at the age of 49. After receiving the call from my mother that he wasn’t doing well, I rushed to the hospital just in time to hear the long, deafening beep….to hear my niece cry uncontrollably…to hear my mom cry out. Sounds you never forget. The feeling of knowing that you were seconds too late to say goodbye.

While each of these losses took pieces of my spirit that I’m not sure can ever be replaced, the day I lost one of my closest friends just months before her 37th birthday was probably the hardest. A heart attack took her life just one night after she was sent home from the E.R. because “they couldn’t find anything wrong”. She left behind a husband and two children — close in age to my own children — and a pain that, to this day, I still can’t shake.

Whew….well, if you’re still reading after all of THAT, allow me to tie it all together for you. You see, as a military wife, I could probably recite to you and for you, numerous facts and statistics about PTSD in the military and PTSD in our Veterans; but it wasn’t until January 26th, 2020 that I realized that I, too, am living with PTSD. January 26th, 2020 was the day that the world learned that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and 7 other people died in a helicopter crash. I was never a basketball fan, let alone a Kobe Bryant fan. In fact, if you asked me on January 25th, I probably would have said that I didn’t like him. All I “knew” of him was his arrogance, his issues with Shaq, his selfishness on the court, and the rape allegations. I knew nothing of the man he had become. Yet upon hearing of his passing I found myself kneeling on the floor of my room, bawling. For several nights after the passengers on that helicopter died so tragically, I didn’t sleep worth a damn. I woke up in tears. Maybe it was the pain of knowing a woman lost her husband and child. Maybe it was the pain of knowing that 3 children lost their father….or the pain of seeing a life taken at only 41 years and 11 years…or maybe it was a combination of all of the above, but Kobe’s passing stirred up something in me and the loss felt as painful as if I knew him personally. His death brought forth Regina, and my brother and sister, and my Uncles, and the Young Marine rushing to the forefront of my psyche and for days weeks I couldn’t shake it. It brought forth the “death” of my husband as I knew him and the loss of youthful foolhardy feelings of immortality. I felt the pain of the trauma — all of it — and I am was not okay.

If you asked me about PTSD at any point before now, I would have associated it most heavily with soldiers and military warfare. I would have talked about people who had been violently raped or assaulted. I may have even mentioned people who survived natural disasters or escaped death. What I can almost guarantee is that I would not have associated it with the sometimes frequent trauma of everyday life. We experience the death of relationships, the death of hopes and dreams. We watch clips and sound bites of people being gunned down by the police or children running, screaming, from gun men shooting up their school. We watch the stock market rise and fall, we face life-threatening illnesses (ahem – corona virus), and we listen to stories of women being snatched off of the streets for human trafficking. We lay to rest the idea of how we thought things would look in our lives…. Hell, it’s a miracle if we aren’t ALL walking around suffering from PTSD.

On January 26th I realized that I suffer from PTSD resulting from all of the people I’ve lost. I realized that I live most days in fear that it will be my last. With every kiss or hug goodbye, I linger just a minute longer not sure if it will be our last embrace. I answer the phone every time my mom calls, fearing the day that I will no longer be able to hear her voice on the other end. Lord knows I never thought the last time I spoke to my brother would be the last time. People take pictures for the ‘gram. I take pictures wondering if it will go in my obituary. Every conversation with my children ends in a life lesson because I want to make sure I teach them all I can, while I can. As a self-certified control freak, the not knowing how or when I will be called home blankets my life with a layer of anxiety that always hovers close by like a shadow. It’s not okay. In truth, many of us likely walk around suffering from PTSD due to tragic events in our life or just because of life itself — hell, it’s tough — but we likely don’t label it as PTSD…just like we often don’t label anxiety or depression. Our own dysfunction becomes our norm — so much so that we can’t imagine doing it or living any other way. We subscribe to dysfunction so often that “normal” feels wrong.

Whatever your trauma, whatever your “dysfunction” , whatever your fear, I pray that you find the strength to work through it and release it. Much like the soldiers who return from war, the old us might be “dead”, but that doesn’t mean that the newest version of you can’t be even better. We all have work to do and traumas to overcome. Let’s get to it.


No, those aren’t filters or special effects. On August 8, 2019 a woman tried to spit on me. She pulled in front of me and slammed on breaks repeatedly and wouldn’t allow me to pass. She cursed at me. Called me bald headed and ugly. Threatened to whoop my ass. Threatened to follow me to my job. Then, in one last heroic feat of anger, tried to pepper spray me from her moving vehicle. Why, you ask…because she said I cut her off in traffic. Look, I won’t get into a back and forth about whether I did or did not cut her off… Of course I don’t think I did and she (obviously) felt very strongly that I did… What I WILL discuss here are the conflicting and contradictory feelings this “incident” brought to the surface and the burden I carried in deciding between justice and, ummm…just-us?

After that incident occurred, I drove to work and sat in the parking lot shaking. I was fuming….angry…livid! I was stuck somewhere between being proud of myself for not responding in kind and pissed at myself for not cursing her the f*$k out!! Stuck somewhere between proud of my calmness under pressure, and feeling like a straight up pu$$y. Unsure of whether to admire my restraint, or question my lack of passion. My yin and yang weren’t meshing. I called for back-up. I sent the video (yes there was a whole video of these shenanigans) to my “circle”. Within minutes I had a myriad of responses….everything from “you should have whooped her a$$” to “you did the right thing” to “she better be glad I wasn’t there”. It seemed my circle had differing opinions on the proper course of action as well. But, as God often does, He sent back up.


me – hello?

My BFF – Girl, are you okay?!?!?

I sat in the parking lot and rehashed the whole thing with her. At the end she said, you did the right thing. She suggested I call the non-emergency police number and report the incident in case she truly did follow me to work to whoop my a$$. I did. I explained the incident and, at their request, provided the video. What happened next was a lesson in criminal justice that I won’t soon forget.

Time passed and that day was in my rear view. Oh blah dee oh blah da life goes on…and then, a letter. I came home to a letter in my mailbox and a subpoena taped to my door. I was subpoenaed by the Commonwealth of Virginia to testify for the state against (let’s just call her) Spitty. I immediately got a sinking feeling in my stomach — one that would occur again the day I arrived in court.

“Justice should not be contingent upon you having enough money to pay a lawyer who cares.”

I was asked to arrive early to meet with the Prosecutor, which I did. She asked me to provide my side of the story. I did. Then, she pulled out a compact disc (yes….a compact disc…lol), inserted it into her computer, and began playing the video from that day. Seeing it again brought back the same rush of feelings….AGAIN. As the video ended she turned to me rather matter-of-factly and asked “what would you like to see happen?”. My silence and blank stare must have tipped her off that I wasn’t really sure what she was asking of me, so she stated, “she has been charged with simple assault which carries a sentence of up to a year in jail, and a $2,500 fine..based on this video we can push for that sentence or we can pursue other options if you wish. Whatever you decide, I will present to her public defender.” Public defender? Jail time? Trials? Fines? Oh my… At that moment, my eyes began to leak involuntarily… I don’t know why (or maybe I do), but in that moment I was brought to tears. I wiped my eyes with the sleeve of my responsible-looking-for-court sweater and I looked up at the (black like me) prosecutor and I said, ” I don’t want to send her to jail”. We discussed other options (I’ll spare you the details) and came up with an offer to present to her public defender. After some discussion and a counter offer, an agreement was reached.

The final details of Spitty’s “punishment” aren’t important other than to note that it didn’t involve any jail time. In fact, if Spitty does all that was asked of her in the agreement, she could actually avoid this incident being placed in her criminal record. To me, that’s just-us. As I sat in the prosecutor’s office and looked at the mile high stack of cases she would have to try today, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the defendants looked like me. While some (read – not people of color) can take a look at the case and make a decision on how to proceed based solely on the crime that was done to them, I somehow felt that I had a greater responsibility. I asked the prosecutor if Spitty had a prior criminal record. I asked if Spitty was convicted, would it hinder her chances of finding employment in the future. I asked what would happen if she couldn’t pay the fine. To me, these things were important in deciding how to proceed. What if I did proceed with asking for a conviction? What if she lost her job while sitting in jail? What if she couldn’t pay the fine? I personally didn’t want to be responsible for contribute to putting Spitty into the prison cycle — a cycle that won’t let you go easily once you’re in — not for THIS crime. As I watched Spitty’s public defender arrive 5 minutes before court began, with an even larger stack of manila folders than the prosecutor, I couldn’t help but think about how public defenders often get very little time to prepare for the cases that they defend on any given day. The person who argues for your freedom may have only known of you for 10 minutes before they have to defend you. Justice should not be contingent upon you having enough money to pay a lawyer who cares. Even Spitty deserves better than that. We all do.

Some may say I’m stupid for not pursuing a worse punishment for Spitty. I have indeed heard “I would have sent her azz to jail” a few times today. Some say that she had no regard for me on the day she spit at me and threatened to follow me and whoop my a$$. Perhaps. Maybe my decision was less than smart….who knows….? I suppose time will tell. What I DO know is that on this day I made a choice. I chose to believe that Spitty deserved another chance to get it right. I chose to believe that August 8th was a fluke for her and that she shouldn’t be ‘too harshly’ judged for her behavior on what may have been her worst day. I chose to believe that something else was driving (no pun intended) her treatment of me that day. Had she just lost her dog? Her job? Her man? Maybe her Christmas was cancelled. Maybe her fresh cornrows were too tight. Whatever the reason, I chose to believe that what I experienced was her worst behavior on her worst day, and that she didn’t deserve to be entered into a vicious cycle because of it. I am hoping Spitty received the lesson and will think twice about how she reacts out of anger going forward. Whether she does, or does not, “it’s above me now”… I just know that a woman who looks like me got a second chance today, and to me, that’s just-us.

Big Bish Bias

It’s hard being fat obese plus-size. All our life we had to fight…. We have to fight the stereotype that we all sit on our ass all day eating cake. We have to fight the trite movie stereotype that we are all lonely, running around looking for any man that will take us. We have to fight the stereotype that we are all one burger away from getting diabetes (which doesn’t even damn make sense). Sadly, today, we now have to take on yet another fight in the most unlikely of places. We have to fight against big-bishes-turned-skinny bishes. Woooo child….

Honestly, we’ve grown accustomed to the not so subtle big-girl hate we experience on a daily basis. We’re used to the not-so-plus-size models that are used to advertise plus size clothing. We’ve all experienced the men who want to friend zone us during the day, but are down to fuck us at night. We’ve all sat across from a never-had-a-weight-problem nutritionists or trainers who callously tell us to “just eat less” (Why didn’t I think of that?!?!?! *insert eye roll*). Trust me, we live this shit. But NEVER did we think that the shade would come from people who once upon a time looked just like us! Women who were once “one burger away” their damn self! The nerve. One would think that THEY would understand the “love yourself at any size” movement more than anyone! But since yall they don’t get it, let me attempt to make it plain. NO ONE is glorifying obesity. Not Lizzo, not Latifah, not Meghan Trainor, not Monique in her big girl days…not naaan one person. I’ve never heard not one person say be fat like me. What IS happening (for the people in the back not paying attention), is plus size women are finally saying we aren’t the fat lonely bishes standing silently behind our skinny friends waiting to be noticed. We aren’t sitting at home on a Friday night because nobody asked us to the dance. We’re not loud, aggressive, bulls in the china shop. We aren’t any of the overused, overplayed, outdated images that society STILL uses to portray us…!! Think of your favorite plus-size-woman included show/movie…. “Nobody’s Fool”…Amber Riley was all about helping Tika Sumpter with her man woes but had no life man of her own… “Insecure”….even “the awkward black girl” couldn’t bother to write a man into the script for her plus size friend…on a show where literally everybody was getting D…. “Precious”…don’t even get me started…you get the point. Big girls are always the friend or the comic relief in these shows and movies. Never the outgoing, desirable, go-getting lead…. Monique had her own damn show with her own damn name on it, and even she couldn’t land “the Professor” because she was fat…. Look. The shit is old. It’s as played as the abysmal percentage of black women Directors in the same industry. We are beautiful. We are fashionable. We are brilliant. We have husbands and kids and whole ass lives. We are single and dating and shooting our shots and making it. We are traveling and creating and securing the damn bag. THIS is the message that the Lizzos of the world are trying to portray. Not be fat, but girrrrl just because you’re fat don’t let it stop you from doing a damn thing you want to do in this life. As a black girl who has struggled with my weight since back when ABC was on the playground, I would have killed to have a Lizzo growing up. And how sad that in the year of our Lord, two thousand and twenty….when we are far more accepting and tolerant *eye roll* of people of all walks of life….we’re still taking the time to take jabs at big, beautiful women…. Pfft.

Here’s the deal Jillian Michaels all of y’all. You need to check your bias against big girls. Oh you don’t have a bias you say….? Maybe you don’t. Or maybe you hand your plus sized friend the camera to take the pictures of you and others when y’all are out…. Maybe you didn’t ask your plus sized friend to be in your wedding because she didn’t fit the look you were going for…. Maybe you gave her a judging glance when you saw her in the fast food spot…or looked at her outfit and thought “now you know she’s too big to be wearing that…” Maybe you looked at a big girl and assumed she was unhealthy or just one sammich away from getting diabetes…. Hmmm? Just maybe. Bias. Because the reality is not every big girl is out of shape just like not every skinny girl is healthy. Lizzo dances her ass across the stage and then plays the damn flute… Do you know how hard that is?!?! If she was huffing and puffing from being out of damn shape she wouldn’t be able to do it. So just stop….America, just stop….Jillian Michaels, just stop…it’s not her health y’all are concerned about. Y’all are mad because how dare she be big and beautiful AND have confidence and take naked pictures and date and not have a single fuck to give to any of you. I say kudos Lizzo. From all the black girls who took years to realize their value and beauty, bravo. You’re giving the next generation of girls the cliff notes on how to be un-apologetically you. How in the hell can y’all be mad at that?

I’m Not God

It’s amazing how becoming a mother can make you feel so very powerful and accomplished yet at the same damn time leave you feeling like the most inadequate human being who ever walked the earth.  I mean let’s sit and reflect that if you are a mother (biologically), you literally push a human being out of your vagitalia!! That’s some super human shyt!! And before you get all “well some women have c sections” on me, reflect on the fact that if a woman has a c section, she literally lays on a table, WIDE AWAKE while someone cuts her open and pulls a human being from her body!! I mean, fukk your favorite horror movie, that’s some scary shyt (hence the lovely white sheet that they hang in front of your face so you can’t see the massacre)!! So it’s no wonder that after having my children, I laid in the hospital bed feeling all ‘king-kong-aint-got-nuthin-on-me-call-me-morpheus-I-can-dodge-bullets-like-the-matrix’-ish!! While some women experience the whole ‘Oh my God, what do I do now’ feeling the day they leave the hospital, I must say I still continued to ride my ‘I am woman hear me roar’ high for quite some time after leaving the hospital. I felt like I can change these diapers, I can nurse this baby, I can get this dinner ready, I can do it all cause I’m every damn woman — yes me bitch– ME…WOO!! But for every woman there comes that day, that minute, that hour where something happens….that first moment (because many more of these moments soon follow) where you think to yourself Oh Shyt…what have I gotten myself into…I can’t do this…

My greatest feelings of inadequacy came the day my maternity leave ended and I once again entered the work force. My husband, who had been back at work for some time by the time I returned to work, seemed to transition from full time daddy back to full time business man with no problem (or if there was a problem, he never let on). I, on the other hand had MAJOR anxiety my first day back to work. I didn’t want to go back. I wanted to be at home with my baby (update: babies — I have two now) — at least for a while longer…. It’s not that I no longer wanted to have my career (I didn’t spend all those years in school for nothing), it’s that all of sudden, the work that I would be performing at my “9 to 5” somehow paled in comparison to a far greater job that I had been called to do — be a mom.  And even though I knew that I was leaving my babies in extremely capable hands — their grandmother’s hands — it still felt so wrong to leave them. God gave them to me, and it was my job to be there to provide them with everything they needed. Days went by with me back at work and there weren’t enough FB posts, Instagram pictures, or FaceTime calls to make up for the guilt I felt at not being there with my babies. The quality time that I would spend with my babies as I nursed them, now became rubber bottles placed in their mouth. I struggled to keep up with pumping and breast feeding and soon more and more formula became the name of the game. I was being replaced… Every day that I would come home they would be doing something new or saying something different and I was missing it all in the name of making a dollar.  Teary eyes were wiped by grandma more than mommy and I was jealous. Meanwhile, daddy would always come home to cheers and big hugs like a hero while the heroine in their lives was no longer played by me…. This is how I felt and it tore me up inside. I would often wonder if they would one day understand why mommy works so hard and couldn’t be there with them during the day. Or would they one day resent me and feel that I put my job before them. How would they see me….

This insecurity began to rear its ugly head in the way I interacted with my husband. While I have never been a woman to date a man based on what he could offer me financially, I began to resent my husband when I returned to work…. Why wasn’t he making enough money so that I could stay home with the kids? Why wasn’t taking a few years off until the kids went to school an option for me? Why was I constantly in executive meetings with middle aged white men whose wives were home with the kids while they went to work, toting the lunches that their wives had packed for them, not at all consumed with feelings of I should be home with my kids and completely unaware of my longing…. They couldn’t understand my need to go to every doctor appointment or why I didn’t want to stay after work to go to Happy Hour… They couldn’t understand my world and I was envious of theirs. Feeling that all eyes were on me when I returned from maternity leave (many male counterparts expressed shock that I returned to work at all after having kids), I excelled. I attended every meeting, I worked on every “extra” project. I helped with every proposal. I didn’t ever want it to be said that having a baby affected my work ethic or my drive. I was a woman obsessed — trying to balance the impossible task of being a full time mother and full time executive and not allowing either area to suffer and I was lost. Something had to give and I just hoped it wasn’t me…

The question is often posed “can a woman have it all”? I won’t attempt to answer this question in this blog because “all” means different things to different people. What I do know is that being a working mother can be lonely. Your husband doesn’t understand and probably never will understand how you feel because mommies and daddies are wired differently. Even if you could get one of your friends with kids on the phone long enough to shed a few tears on their “shoulder”, they usually don’t really have the time to help you through your challenges because, well, they have kids of their own. Every mother’s story and experience is so different — but this blog is my story, my account, my diary as I try to be ‘every woman‘ for my family.  This is my story of realization…  I am not omnipotent. I am not omniscient. I am not omnipresent. I can’t do everything, I don’t know everything, I can’t be everywhere…. I am not God. I am just a wife mother woman….and that’s enough….    …it has to be…